Election is coming up

By Dr. Marci Larsen, Superintendent | Feb 07, 2018

Voters in the school district are now considering two ballot measures that would provide funding for our schools.

One would provide money for a variety of educational programs and services and the other would provide money to improve technology.

As the voters consider these measures, many have called or written to us asking questions about the proposals. Some of those questions have resulted from reports in the local media about property taxes.

Here are the answers to some of the most common questions:

Would these two levies add to our existing property taxes?

No. The levies would replace existing levies that will expire at the end of this year.

In the case of the Educational Programs Levy, which is the larger of the two, it would replace an existing four-year levy that was approved by voters in 2014.

That levy collected money in 2015, 2016 and 2017, will collect money in 2018, and will expire on Dec. 31.

The proposal is for another four-year levy that would begin on Jan. 1, 2019, and continue through 2022.

With the Supreme Court decision, I thought the state was supposed to fully fund education. If that’s so, why does the school district need a levy?

The state will be funding more of the cost of education, but not all of the cost.

The state will fully fund what they define as “basic education,” but there are many programs and activities that aren’t considered basic education, yet are still important to our students.

That’s where the Educational Programs Levy comes in.

It would pay for those things the state doesn’t fund, such as all sports and extra-curricular activities, extended-day lessons for students, summer school, pay for substitute teachers, the elementary instrumental music program, new curriculum, staff training and much more.

I’ve heard that property taxes will increase this year because the state needs more money for education. What will happen to property taxes if these measures pass?

There have been reports in other newspapers and by talk-radio hosts who have talked about property tax increases, but they are telling only part of the story.

They don’t mention that the tax rate for school districts is actually going to go down starting next year. Here are the numbers:

Last year, the total tax rate for all school district levies and the debt service on bonds totaled $3.74 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

That means if your house is assessed for $400,000, your tax would be $1,496 ($3.74 x 400 = $1,496).

Meanwhile, the state also collected a tax rate of $2.03 through local property taxes. The two tax rates combined is $5.77.

This year, because the state is funding more of the cost of education, the tax rate for the state portion of your property tax will increase to $2.96.

Meanwhile, our tax rate will be $3.46 because it still includes the final year of the levy that voters approved in 2014.

As a result, the combined tax rate for both the state and the school district will be $6.42.

So, it does increase by 65 cents compared with last year.

But, look what happens in 2019 when the existing levy expires and is replaced by the levy that is currently on the ballot.

The new state law that provides for the state to fund more of the cost of education also limits the amount of money school districts can collect through property taxes.

As a result, our estimated total tax rate would drop to $2.52 while the state tax rate would stay roughly the same as the year before at $2.99.

That means the combination of the two is estimated to be $5.51 per $1,000 per assessed valuation, or would decrease by 91 cents compared with the year before.

I hope this answers a question or two that you might have had about the levy proposals.

If something is still not clear or if you have additional questions, please don’t hesitate to call us at 425-356-1215.

 

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